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There's no place like home—and youth and internet!—for bandwidth demand

A recent survey commissioned by the Fiber To The Home Council (FTTH) found that accessing video programming over the Internet will continue to be a growing factor that bodes well for the future of fiber optic technology.

A press release from the FTTH said that the survey showed that "a trend toward obtaining video and audio content via the Internet, and bypassing programming offered by traditional cable and satellite providers, is advancing more quickly than previously believed because of a sea-change in the viewing habits of younger consumers." Further, this trend is expected to continue accelerate demand for more bandwidth and faster connectivity in North American households, pushed by wider availability of Internet-connected televisions; growth in the number of simultaneous video streams per household; and the development of more robust streaming standards to support high quality HD and super HD video, it said.

The release said that the survey included 2,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to fixed broadband services (cable, DSL and FTTH), of which an estimated 40% were said to be accessing at least some video programming through so-called "over-the-top" video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes, as well as through a variety of applications for mobile devices through the Internet. It noted that the numbers change drastically for younger individuals, as the access rate was 70% for people under age 35.

"It is clear that a fast-growing number of people are looking to the Internet to get the video programming they want, when and where they want it," said FTTH Council President Heather Burnett Gold. "But this survey shows that the trend is very much a home-based phenomenon, where televisions, tablets, smart-phones and other devices are drawing broadband signal from a household wi-fi router that is served by a wireline connection."

Gold said that as younger subscribers drive this access practice, "the trend toward video over the Internet will accelerate household bandwidth requirements, particularly as broadband subscribers demand better video quality and purchase more devices that connect to their wi-fi routers." Per the release, one-third of survey respondents own both a smart-phone and a tablet device, and use at least one of those devices during almost half the time they are watching television. More than 80% of the heavy users of mobile devices connect them to their broadband service via wi-fi when they are home, it said. The survey also found that the average broadband-connected household currently has five Internet-connected devices.
"This is actually about more than bandwidth," said Gold. "It's about having unwavering speed and a noise-free network so that over-the-top services and applications play flawlessly, without any hesitation or buffering. And on that issue FTTH networks have proven themselves as the consumer's access technology of choice."

Gold noted that bandwidth is already an issue, as one recent study found that 60% of the streams suffered from some quality degradation leading to re-buffering, slow start up, or poor picture quality. The FTTH survey found that more than 12% of under-35 broadband users get all of their television/movie programming entirely through the internet. Across all age categories, about 5% of broadband consumers are now receiving all of their programming from the Internet, it said.

"When you add up the accelerating demand for sharper video, uninterrupted streaming and faster downloads, it is clear that North America will increasingly need the unparalleled bandwidth and super-fast connectivity that Fiber To The Home networks deliver," said Gold. She noted that FTTH subscribers reported an average of 23.9 mbps download speeds and 14.2 mbps connectivity for uploading information, versus an average of 15 mbps/2.8 mbps for cable customers and 4.6 mpbs/0.7 mbps for DSL.

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